Afua Atta-Mensah is CVH’s new Executive Director, starting September 2016. She had served as a member of CVH’s Board of Directors since 2008, so she is already very invested in CVH’s mission and vision Afua, who is a Harlem resident, holds a law degree from Fordham Univ. School of Law, and a BA in Sociology and African American History from Trinity College.
CVH is a leading New York nonprofit that develops ad guides civic leaders, grassroots organizations and neighborhood activist as they take powerful, concrete steps to improve their lives and their communities. From Ghana, West Africa to the United States, Afua has worked to empower women, improve the quality and quantity of fair and equitable housing, defend women's rights and galvanize support for programs benefiting low-income families.
She was awarded the Fulbright Fellowship in support of her work at the International Federation of Women Attorneys advocating on behalf of indigent women in Ghana. She represents these women in court helped draft proposed legislation to criminalize marital rape and was a visiting university lecturer. She also worked with area lawyers to develop proposed legislation for marital rape law and served as a visiting lecturer at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology , where she taught a course on women's rights in the context of Ashanti-tribal law.
Between 2012 and 2016,Afua was the Urban Justice Center’s Director of Litigation for the Safety Net Project. During her tenure,the project filed a federal lawsuit that pressured former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to abandon a proposal to demolish Public Housing playgrounds and community centers so developers could build high-priced apartment towers. Under Afua,the Safety Net Project also challenged mayoral candidates to stay overnight with host families in public housing to experience firsthand the deplorable conditions public housing residents are exposed. That innovative strategy brought a media spotlight and the government's attention residents plight.
As CVH Executive Director, Afua is currently leading a grassroots fight against a city proposal to rezone a huge portion of East Harlem for residential towers and "infill" public housing property with new development. Additionally, CVH is demanding that Mayor de Blasio's administration first allocate $200 million to fix and upgrade existing public housing buildings and increase the number affordable units for families making $23,000 and less.